Reality Check is a Deadline feature series covering the players, programs and trends in reality television.
In mid-May, 21st Century Fox surprised industry watchers when it announced its intent to form a joint venture with Apollo Global Management that would include the Shine Group, Endemol and CORE Media Group. Apollo had been known to be contemplating a tie-up of Big Brother producer Endemol and American Idol parent CORE Media, but the Shine element was new. What was unsurprising was this further move towards consolidation in the TV production sector which has seen myriad companies – big and small — acquired by the likes of Discovery, Warner Bros, ITV, Sony and Red Arrow to name a few, in the past year and a half. Folks caution that it’s still early days for a potential combined Shine-Endemol-Core, but that the desire is there to see such a deal come to fruition. If it does, it will create a so-called Mega Indie that would be one of the world’s biggest independent production companies working across both scripted and non-scripted. 21st Century Fox and funds managed by affiliates of Apollo would co-own and manage the new joint venture. Read More »
‘Sherlock’ Season Finale Ratings Tops Weekend In UK
A roundly lauded finale for Season Three of Sherlock was the weekend’s most-watched TV program in the UK. The modern detective series’ third installment, entitled “His Last Vow,” drew 8.77M viewers for a 32.1% share, according to the overnights. While it was possibly the best-reviewed episode of the current season, it also was the lowest-rated. Last week’s 90-minute turn, “The Sign Of Three,” had brought in 8.84M viewers and the January 1st opener, “The Empty Hearse,” was the show’s most-watched episode ever at 9.2M on BBC One. In March last year, star Benedict Cumberbatch said there would be a fourth series of a three more episodes. At a BAFTA screening and panel discussion last week, Sherlock co-creator Steven Moffat said the next season will be made “as quickly” as possible. Season 3 kicks off in the U.S. on PBS on January 19.
UK’s BBFC Changes Its Movie Ratings Criteria
After a spending nearly a year polling more than 10,000 members of the British public, the UK ratings board is tweaking its guidelines. Beginning February 24, the BBFC will give greater weight to the theme and tone of a film, especially around the 12A and 15 certificate levels (12A is similar to PG-13 in the U.S. and 15 means suitable only for 15 and overs). The board will also pay particular attention “to the psychological impact of horror” and strong visual details like gore. The BBFC has previously shown itself to be squeamish: In 2012, Lionsgate UK shaved seven seconds off The Hunger Games when it appeared the board was going to stamp it with a 15 certificate. Fixes were made in four scenes of violence and one showing details of injuries. It secured the 12A with a warning that it had “occasional gory moments.” While the BBFC will be stricter with language at the U level (equivalent to an MPAA G), it will also be more flexible about allowing very strong language at the 15 rating. “Context, not just frequency, is the most important factor in how language in films is perceived by the public,” the BBFC said today. Further, the group’s findings show that the public is notably concerned about the sexualization of girls in mainstream films and about risks to vulnerable adolescents, including what some described as the onscreen ‘normalization’ of behaviors which parents consider inappropriate. According to findings of the poll, 95% of parents with children under 15 say they check the BBFC rating before watching a film and 89% of moviegoers ratings important. The most complained-about film over the past four years was 2012′s The Woman In Black starring Daniel Radcliffe. Eleven percent of moviegoers polled thought it had received too low a rating at 12A and should have been given a 15. Read More »
Matthew Lewis Joins ‘Bluestone 42′; ‘Peaky Blinders’ Renewed
Matthew Lewis, best known for playing Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter movies, has joined the cast of Bluestone 42, the BBC Three comedy/drama about a fictional bomb-disposal detachment in Afghanistan. Lewis will play an ammunition technician from Leeds with a penchant for danger. The second season of Bluestone 42 starts filming later this month and returns to BBC Three with a Christmas special, followed by a six-part series in early 2014. In other BBC News, BBC One has ordered a second season of Atlantis, the fantasy adventure series that has been the biggest new Saturday night drama series launch across all channels since 2006. The 13-part series is co-produced by BBC America and is set in the mythical city of Atlantis where it re-imagines Greek myths and legends for a new generation. It was created by Merlin writer Howard Overman. Also, BBC Two has recommissioned Cillian Murphy starrer Peaky Blinders. The period gangster drama hails from Caryn Mandabach Productions and Tiger Aspect Productions. It has had an average 2.4M viewers across Season 1 and will return in 2014 with six new episodes. Peaky Blinders is created by Steven Knight and also stars Sam Neill and Helen McCrory.
‘Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model’ Off The Sky Living Runway
The CW last week officially said it had ordered a 21st cycle of America’s Next Top Model. But the British version of the competition series will not be returning to Sky Living in the UK. Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model concluded its ninth cycle earlier this year. Sky said today: “After nearly a decade on air, BINTM won’t be returning to Sky Living next year. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of the talent who have been involved in the series, with particular thanks to Thumbs Up Productions, exec producer and host Elle Macpherson and this final season’s judges Dannii Minogue and Tyson Beckford.” Sky Living is not without a model competition show, however. It’s airing the British version of The Face, co-produced by Princess Productions and Shine TV. Read More »
Bear Grylls, Channel 4 Explore ‘The Island Of Lost Blokes’
Bear Grylls is teaming up with the UK’s Channel 4 for documentary series The Island Of Lost Blokes. The show sends 12 male volunteers to a remote deserted island for four weeks and leaves them with a limited supply of food and water. Once they run out, the men will have to work to survive. The series asks the question: Without the luxuries of 21st century living, can modern man cut it? Grylls calls it “Lord Of The Flies meets Bear Grylls meets Darwin’s survival of the fittest.” Shine TV is producing with Bear Grylls Ventures. Read More »
Travel Channel has ordered 10-episode New Zealand-set series, RV Rampage. The show will be produced by Tuesday’s Child, the UK indie set up by former Shine TV joint MD Karen Smith. RV Rampage sees five couples from around the world travel from one end of the country to the other in a mobile home as they face cultural, physical and mental challenges. Henry Cole and Amanda Byram will host. Smith and Steph Harris are exec producing for Tuesday’s Child.
Cambodia and Myanmar are getting their first-ever global talent formats, via a new deal with FremantleMedia International. Hang Meas Group will produce multiple seasons of Cambodian Idol and Cambodia’s Got Talent for air on Hang Meas HDTV, Fremantle said today. In Myanmar, Forever BEC-Tero has licensed the Got Talent format for Channel 7 and MRTV-4.
ITV Studios acquired UK producer The Garden in April this year and has just announced deals on its medical documentary series Keeping The Nation Alive. ITV Studios Nordic has been commissioned by TV Norge to produce Keeping Norway Alive, a six-part series to air next year, and ITV Studios France will make Keeping France Alive for pubcaster France 2, also for air in 2014. The original BBC Two series has also been sold to BBC Knowledge in Australia. The series provides a behind-the-scenes snapshot of 24-hours in the nation’s healthcare system; from emergencies and cardiac operations to tattoo removals and plastic surgery. Read More »
Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine Group has promoted Kelly Webb-Lamb to managing director of MasterChef producer Shine TV. The exec has spent the past 18 months as creative director of London-based Shine TV which also encompasses the Shine Soho offices, where all MasterChef series are produced, and Salford-based Shine North. Since joining Shine last year, Webb-Lamb has had a hand in such series as Britain’s Best Bakery (ITV1), Jewish Mum Of The Year (C4), and Ashley Banjo’s Street Crew (Sky1). Recent commissions for Shine TV include Saturday Farm With Dick And James Strawbridge (ITV1), and documentaries Karaoke Nights (C4) and Idris Elba: King Of Speed (BBC2). Webb-Lamb was previously Director of Factual Programmes at Princess Productions where she served as exec producer on Sky 1’s Got To Dance. Her other exec producing credits include Gordon Ramsay: Cook Along Live and Ramsay’s Great British Nightmare.
Luther creator Neil Cross confirmed prequel movie plans for the BBC series starring Idris Elba, saying he’d finish a screenplay and hopes to film next year. The film will follow Luther’s early career when he is still married to Zoe; the film’s final scene is the opening scene of the TV series first season, Cross said at the Edinburgh TV Festival, according to multiple press reports. “Idris is a brilliant leading man, and we’ve hoped to turn Luther into a movie for a long time,” Cross said.
Related: WME Signs Idris Elba
Elba is on board to play John Luther, as are Warren Brown, Indira Varma and Steve Mackintosh. Cross said he went with a prequel, rather than a follow-up to the series, so he could bring back popular supporting characters — including some who let’s say maybe don’t fare so well in the final season. Ruth Wilson’s Alice Morgan character, who doesn’t fit in, chronologically, with the prequel plans, is being mulled as a spinoff series, Cross told Variety last year.
Related: ‘Luther’ Season 3 Debut Collars 5M Viewers On UK’s BBC One
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Idris Elba is heading out on an international driving tour in two-part documentary King Of Speed. The Shine North/Shine TV production is a look at the origins of the car racing scene. The two hours will air on BBC Two; Elba’s detective series Luther airs on BBC One. Elba will visit racetracks in the U.S., Scotland and Finland among other locales to trace the political, social and historical evolution of racing from prohibition to today. The shows will include elements of NASCAR, vintage police chases and Japanese drifting. Among his co-pilots will be Cannonball Run creator Brock Yates. Rick Murray is exec producing with Tim Whitwell; Southan Morris is producing and directing. Production is currently underway, but no airdate has been set.
BBC Three Takes ‘Orphan Black’
In a west-to-east move, Britain’s BBC Three has acquired the BBC America original series Orphan Black. The 10-part drama, co-created by Graeme Manson (Flashpoint) and John Fawcett (Spartacus), centers on a street-wise chameleon whose life changes dramatically after witnessing the suicide of a woman who looks just like her. Taking on the woman’s identity, boyfriend and bank account, she is thrust into a kaleidoscopic mystery. Tatiana Maslany stars. BBC America just renewed the series in the U.S. It’s produced by Temple Street Prods in association with BBC America and Space.
‘The Face’ UK Names Models To Join Naomi Campbell
Sky Living has added supermodels Erin O’Connor and Caroline Winberg alongside Naomi Campbell for the UK version of model reality show The Face. The U.S. version, produced by Shine America, launched on Oxygen in February. The local UK format will be co-produced by Princess Productions and Shine TV. The three models will mentor three teams of four girls over eight weeks as they compete in photo shoots, runway shows and commercials. The last girl standing will be crowned the face of a globally known brand. Production starts in the spring. Campbell is exec producing. Read More »
After launching on Oxygen in the U.S. last month, model reality show The Face will make its way to Britain. Sky Living has picked up the original series and ordered a local format to be co-produced by Princess Productions and Shine TV. Shine America produces the U.S. version that stars Naomi Campbell who will also topline and executive produce the UK version. Two other supermodels will join Campbell to mentor three teams of four girls over eight weeks as they compete in photo shoots, runway shows and commercials. The last girl standing will be crowned the face of a globally known brand. Production starts in the spring with contestant auditions being held now throughout the UK for girls 18 and older.
Merlin will cast its final spell on BBC One this Christmas. The fantasy-adventure show that’s loosely based on Arthurian legend airs on Syfy in the U.S. and will end after five seasons. Co-creators and exec producers Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy say the series is bowing out at its natural climax, with the finale bringing an end to the battle for Camelot. Capps and Murphy have also announced they are leaving Shine TV, producer of the show, at the end of the year to start their own production company. Shine and FremantleMedia Enterprises, which handles the show internationally, are in the early stages of developing potential Merlin spinoffs using the universe created in the series. Any future shows would be produced by Shine’s Kudos in partnership with FME. Merlin debuted in 2008 and stars Colin Morgan, Bradley James, Katie McGrath, Angel Coulby, Richard Wilson and the voice of John Hurt. Its other international broadcast partners include Germany’s Super RTL, France’s Canal+ and Australia’s Network Ten.
Advertising Up 12.5% For China’s Biggest Broadcaster
Foreign and Chinese advertisers will pay about $2.25 billion next year for time on China’s biggest television network CCTV. That’s up roughly 12.5% over 2011. That may seem high compared to the rest of the world which is generally chalking up low single-digit growth, but China has been accustomed to annual hikes ranging from 15% to 18.5% during the past five years. Similar to the US networks’ upfront market, CCTV’s auction of TV time for the coming year is seen as a benchmark for not only China’s ad industry but the country’s economy as a whole. One of the largest bidders was white-spirits company Kweichow Moutai Co., which pledged $78.4 million. Bank of China committed $12 million for a 10-second slot after the evening news in January and February during peak viewership for special Chinese New Year programming. Internet companies including 360buy.com and Alibaba were the fastest growing advertisers representing a 7.7% increase over 2011. In general Western companies were less aggressive this year, but Volkswagen AG was one of the largest foreign advertisers according to Beijing ad agency Charm Communications. Procter & Gamble Co. pledged $25.2 million. Separately, CCTV plans to open a new HQ in Washington, D.C., in January as part of an agressive foreign expansion.
Duncan Gray Named Creative Director Of Princess Productions
Princess Productions today announced the appointment of Duncan Gray, currently Head of Entertainment Commissioning for Sky. Gray will join the company as Creative Director in early 2012, reporting … Read More »
Syfy has picked up a fourth season of the BBC fantasy series Merlin in a deal with FremantleMedia Enterprises. The series, produced by Shine TV, started its U.S. run on NBC under Ben Silverman. It was canceled after one season and moved to sibling Syfy where it has done solid business in Season 2 and Season 3, recently averaging 1.93 million viewers for its third season, up 12% from Season 2. Meanwhile, VH1 has renewed its first hourlong scripted series Single Ladies for a second season. Both Merlin and Single Ladies will return with originals in 2012.
It didn’t take long for new Shine Group Americas CEO Emiliano Calemzuk to put his stamp on Reveille with a major executive move. Calemzuk, who joined Shine last month, has reshuffled the top management at the Shine-owned company: co-managing director Howard T. Owens will now run the company solo as managing director, while co-managing director Mark Koops is leaving. Additionally, executive producer Robin Ashbrook has been promoted to the newly created role of Head of Non-Scripted Entertainment. Koops is pursuing a new venture, which will be announced shortly, Shine said. “This is a re-structure that will equip Reveille for the next period of its growth,” Calemzuk said. In a similar fashion, 3 weeks after taking over Fox TV Studios as president in 2007, Calemzuk shook up the company’s top management by axing 3 department heads. Read More »
Fox has renewed Gordon Ramsay’s newest culinary competition series, Masterchef, for a second season. This is Ramsay’s third successful series on Fox, following Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares. The other person with 3 series on Fox – Seth MacFarlane. Masterchef was the highest-rated new summer series among adults 18-49. It is produced by Reveille, Shine TV and One Potato Two Potato.
Liz Murdoch has talked about wanting to beef up comedy at her Shine Group and now she’s done it. Shine has bought UK comedy producer Brown Eyed Boy from Motive Television. This is Shine’s 5th new UK-based production company alongside Dragonfly (factual), Kudos (drama), Princess Productions (entertainment) and Shine TV. Gary Reich, managing director of Brown Eyed Boy, has discovered some of Britain’s best comedians including Sacha Baron Cohen and The Mighty Boosh’s Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt. NBC is developing a U.S. version of Brown Eyed’s BBC sitcom How Not To Live Your Life.
Paula Abdul is off the market, at least for now. The former American Idol judge has signed on as executive producer, lead judge and “creative partner” for CBS’ new dancing reality-competition Got To Dance. She had been courted for numerous gigs since quitting Idol last summer, including to topline a revival of Star Search for ABC. On Got To Dance, she will also serve as coach, mentor and advocate for contestants during the performances and elimination process, the network said this morning. Meanwhile, Abdul also is rumored to make an appearance on Idol this week as part of the send-off for judge Simon Cowell.
Got To Dance is based on the popular British series, which debuted earlier this year on Britain’s Sky 1. It features amateurs of any age group from across the nation (either performing solo or in a group) who can audition any form of dancing. “I’ve spent the better part of my life teaching, mentoring, nurturing—working with so many talented people—and I consider myself truly blessed to be able to continue to do something that I hold so dear to my heart,” said Abdul, who is repped by UTA.
Got To Dance is a Shine Group format, created by Princess Prods. and Shine TV and is produced by Reveille. Abdul, Elisabeth Murdoch, Howard T. Owens, Mark Koops and Robin Ashbrook are executive producers. Distribution is handled by Shine International.